Mist of Midnight

Written by Sandra Byrd
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionary parents slain in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, returns to England to reclaim her family heritage after having spent most of her life in India. To her dismay she finds her place has been usurped by another young woman claiming to be Miss Ravenshaw, who had recently died mysteriously. The ownership was then transferred to a distant relation, Captain Luke Whitfield, who surprisingly invites Rebecca to stay while the matter is settled.

Unfortunately for Rebecca, she has scant evidence of her identity, other than relating the past and speaking of her family. She’d lost everything in the Mutiny, and has been so long away from England that she remembers very little, and none remember the four-year-old child she’d been. While inquiries are sent to India by her father’s solicitor, she installs herself in Headbourne Manor, with a suspicious staff, meeting equally skeptical neighbors and enduring Captain Whitfield’s subtle questioning.

Whitfield, however, is the epitome of a gentleman: always solicitous and kind, well-mannered and with seemingly faultless behavior. Rebecca feels he shows her especial favor, and she quickly falls under his spell, though soon enough she hears the rumors and innuendos concerning his involvement with the imposter, and his attachment to Headbourne.

This lightly gothic novel, reminiscent of Victoria Holt, includes an intriguing mystery that is so ingeniously planned that, upon finishing, readers will spend time flipping back to see how the clues were laid. The atmosphere of the setting will delight gothic romance audiences, while the inclusion of relatable scripture, gleaned from the protagonist’s missionary roots, will satisfy inspirational readers. Richly detailed descriptions of life in British-occupied India cement this historical account, though perhaps take second place to the author’s immensely engaging characters.